Today I got an email from a longtime friend named Gregg Fishman. To protect his identity I’ll just refer to him here as “Fish.”
Fish is about ten years younger than me, give or take a couple of years. I love helping my friends who are about to discover paths I’ve recently trod.
Here’s Gregg’s — er, I mean Fish’s note and my reply:
My 12 year old daughter Jayna has a book report due this week for her seventh grade social studies class—and of course, I find out over the weekend that she read the book, and then lent it to a friend. Jayna could get started on the book report, but “It would be a LOT easier if I had a COPY the book DAD!”
Against my better parental judgment, I found myself in a foul mood, striding up to the customer service desk at the local Borders store and asking brusquely “Where can I find a copy of George Orwell’s book “Animal House.”
The clerk looked a little non-plussed.
Now I was sure that the younger generation was doomed—if this 20-something had never heard of the book—she’s a clerk in a book store for Chrissake.
“Animal House?—by George Orwell?” I repeated—
“Do you mean Animal FARM by George Orwell?” she asked.
Visions of U.S Senator Blutarsky swam before my eyes. Strains of “Louie Louie” wafted through my ears—I swear I could smell stale beer. “Was it over when the German’s bombed
I started laughing—and told the clerk that “Yes, I meant Animal FARM” by George Orwell.
Jayna Finished her book report on Sunday…
Welcome to the age of merging memories.
It’s a time in your life when your child finds out you not only don’t know everything, you really are a complete numbskull. Before you know it you will begin to agree.
Your brain will start combining actual, experiential memories with half-remembered black and white movies. Something your dad told you when you were six will suddenly surface in the middle of recounting a funny conversation you had last Thanksgiving at the dinner table. Your family will look at you oddly. Your daughter will correct you and roll her eyes. Soon after that you’ll start keeping your mouth shut in confused, self-conscious self-defense.
Then everybody will be talking behind your back, worried because you’re not as much fun as you used to be.